gratia: Latin- meaning grace, gratitude, gratefulness or graciousness
Happy Thanksgiving Week!
We love all that Thanksgiving represents: gratitude, gathering, slowing down to be present and mindful and take inventory of all that is good in our lives. In the mental health world, we call the practice of sitting in the present moment, or putting your mind to a specific task “mindfulness.”
Mindfulness is rooted in ancient eastern philosophy and dates back over 2500 years. Gratitude, the practice of being mindful and bringing awareness to your gratefulness, has been linked to mental wellness from the beginning. Buddhism first recognized the fruits of focusing mental energy on giving thanks. Jon Kabat-Zinn is credited with bringing mindfulness from the East to the West, developing mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR), used to treat major depressive disorder.
Psychology has since latched on to mindfulness and there are decades of research supporting the link between mindfulness and mental wellness. The simple version is this: we all have finite amounts of mental energy. The more mental energy we spend on noticing what is good, and life-giving and pleasing, the more content we feel. If we choose to spend our mental energy on what is difficult or scary or overwhelming, our mental health tanks as well.
So join us this Thanksgiving, in refocusing our attention. In prioritizing gratitude in our hierarchy of mental space. In being proactive in choosing to be thankful for who we are, what we have, and where we are in this moment.
Below are some simple exercises of gratitude you may choose to try this holiday week as we embrace gratitude:
- Start each morning with a gratitude meditation. Recite, pray, meditate on one thing for which you are thankful. If you are a write-to-process person, try journaling on one focal point of your gratitude.
- Outwardly express gratitude. Write a thank you note to a colleague, a family member, a community worker, a child… send a text if that feels more genuine. Let others feel your gratitude for their role in your life
- Create a jar of thanksgiving: I love this activity for families or friend groups. Give everyone in the group/family 5 popsicle sticks, and have each person write one thing for which they want to give thanks on the stick. Put all the sticks in a jar. Each day, whether it be during dinner or in the car on the way to school, pull a stick and discuss why you are grateful for the person/place/thing/experience on the stick.
Our hope is that you would allow these activities and discussions to breed a spirit of thanksgiving that carries well beyond the holiday season!